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Ads, not age, the issue says Nandor

19 May 2004
Ads, not age, the issue says Nandor

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today rejected renewed calls to raise the legal drinking age and said the beginnings of a real solution to teenage alcohol abuse lies in his private member's bill banning booze advertising.

The latest debate has been set off by a Justice Ministry report that teenagers are drinking more alcohol more often, though in roughly the same numbers, since the legal age was lowered to 18 in 1999.

"Yet again we see young people being blamed for emulating the behaviour of adults," said Nandor, the Green Party Spokesperson on Drug Policy

"If we want teenagers to behave responsibly with drugs, adult New Zealanders had better grow up in their own attitudes to getting out-of-it.

"When the drinking age was lowered from 20 it was done on the proviso that there would be an industry wide clampdown on underage sales and more money would be put into effective drug education. This lasted for a while but young people are now telling us that it is actually getting easier to obtain alcohol. The expectation that booze barons would make an ongoing commitment to self-regulation has proven to be far too optimistic.

"If the current age limit is not being properly policed, as Mr Anderton suggests, raising it is not going to make any difference. The Government should be ensuring the police make use of the new powers that Parliament has just given them to enforce the age limit.

Nandor also called on the Government to support his private member's bill banning all broadcast advertising of alcohol.

"We need to ask, who is really at fault here? The main problem with messages of responsible alcohol use is that they are swamped by the tens of millions of dollars spent each year by the alcohol industry telling young people that drinking makes them sexy and cool. Naked, aggressive promotion of drug use has no place in a country trying to move beyond a culture of drug abuse.

"Adult New Zealanders need to take a long hard look at their own habits and ask whether its reasonable to say to teens 'do as I say, don't do as I do'. Youth know hypocrisy when they see it. There's nothing wrong with moderate use of alcohol or any other soft drug, but New Zealanders fetishise over-consumption.

"We need to stop commercial interests from exploiting and perpetuating the failings in our culture. Don't raise the drinking age, ban the ads that perpetuate binge drinking in all age groups," said Nandor.


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